From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Despite the catchy title that suggests a narrative with a light touch, this is a straightforward, well-researched, and smoothly written book of political history. Blumberg tells the story of the clash of the competing interests of France, England, and Spain for control over New Orleans and the vast "wasteland" beyond the Mississippi River. She charts the tangled web of diplomacy, treaties made and broken, and the unexpected consequences of events seemingly unrelated to the new government in America. The Queen of Spain desired land in Italy, Toussaint L'Ouverture destroyed a French army in St. Domingue, and Napoleon overrode all advice and chose to sell the Louisiana territory if President Jefferson could meet his price. The author makes an exciting and suspenseful tale out of the negotiations and the people involved in a political bargain that would determine the future of the United States. Students of political science and American history will welcome this title with its maps, timeline, and bibliography. Casual readers and history buffs, attracted by the numerous black-and-white reproductions and clever political cartoons of the period, will enjoy the fast-paced, behind-the-scenes account of one of the most important "deals" in our country's past.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In Blumberg's talented hands, an event often depicted as just one more musty land deal from the olden days becomes a vibrant tale of greed, double-dealing, and political finesse. Befitting the dramatic telling, the book opens with a "Cast of Characters," identifying the movers and shakers in the Louisiana territory's 120-year history. With balance, clarity, and spirit, Blumberg presents the complex history of fluid political alliances and the ever-present threat of war, explaining political motivations as well as political acts to give readers a sense of why the territory was important and how it was eventually acquired. She also makes it clear that the deal wasn't a foregone conclusion: Napoleon could have refused to negotiate; Britain could have joined the U.S. in a war to claim the territory. In fact, Blumberg ends her last chapter by proposing a few alternate histories, answering the "what if" questions that textbooks never ask. Divided into short sections within short chapters, the text is accessible enough to appeal to struggling readers. Its readability is further enhanced by a large format and generously spaced layout, which allows for full-page, black-and-white reproductions of oil paintings, engravings, and sketches. This is a welcome blend of scholarship, historical drama, and handsome design. Source notes, bibliography, time line. Randy Meyer